As I was growing up at Natan village in the forgotten semi-arid East Pokot, the noun ‘Class’ was one of the non-existent words. I was raised believing Cows, Goats, pasture and respect for elders as shared values in my community. The dedication to pastoral lifestyle despite its wide attribution to negative practices like Cattle rustling, early arranged marriages and Female Genital Mutilation, is circumstantial. It’s a lifestyle that all and sundry were made to concede that we couldn’t do without. Children are made to dedicate their destinies to herding. In fact, their destinies are sealed the hour they are born. Their lives only resonate around love for cows and the community. There was no school. None of my fourteen siblings went to school, neither did my parents-and their parents.
It took great sacrifice for me to reach where I have reached academically since the day I was afforded the opportunity to join school. I have seen many of my classmate dropout. A school going child from this region literary go through thick and thin to access education and pursue their dream careers. Attaining elementary education level alone is like organizing a journey to the moon using a Vehicle. I was accommodated and fed by homes I had no relation to, to attend classes because my village had no school. Economic instability and community reception means the line between being a student and a dropout is thinner than a thread. There need not be experimental chances.
The e-learning system called Raspberry Pi and RACHEL that Rotarian Robert Cairns introduced in 9 schools across the District is unbelievably life changing in the sense that it empower students with massive information that they would have never been able to access. Since the introduction of devolution system of governance in Kenya in 2010 through the promulgation of a new constitution, makeshift schools emerged- otherwise known as nomadic schools. The rise of these schools were curtailed by lack of teachers, electricity, classrooms and learning materials like books. Raspberry Pi as a system is a complete package solution to the above and other local challenges. The system has in it thousands of relevant books and other academic materials transmitted by free Wi-Fi. Lack of electricity will no longer be a setback to e-learning as the system is compatible to the sun-the only abundant resource a Pokot was given by God.
Education is the future of a Pokot child. Technology holds keys to this future and raspberry Pi system is part of that technological innovations that will open up East Pokot to the rest of the World. The use of tablets and e-books alone is a realization that many precious things exist other than Cattle, Goats and Grass.
The excitement and curiosity created when Mr. Cairns handed over those tablets to crowds that have never seen a computer drove readership and National Examination performances for 2014 to record levels. The term personal tutoring was born. Teachers were afforded content to prepare lessons in advance. Raspberry Pi being portable system will complement makeshift class setups where lessons do take place under trees. It offers flexibility that fits into pastoral culture without being disruptive. Pokot have been resistant to changes that disrupt positive traditions but this innovation accommodates and complement them and offer solutions to real life challenges affecting the local institutions. Both my struggles and accomplishments showcase the extreme possibilities facing school going children in East Pokot. I succeeded because humanitarians shared their food and mat of the floor to accommodate me. As for this generation, it will be humanitarians donating Raspberry Pi’s.